Senckenberg Natural History Collections Dresden



IGCP Project: “IGCP 497 - The Rheic Ocean: Its Origin, Evolution and Correlatives”


Duration: 2004-2008

Project leader(s):

1. Ulf Linnemann (Germany)

Senckenberg Collections of Natural History Dresden, Museum of Mineralogy and Geology, A.-B.-Meyer-Bau, Königsbrücker Landstrasse 159, Dresden, D-01109, Germany, Tel: 0049-351-7958414402, Fax: 0049-351-7958414404,

2. Richard Damian Nance (U.S.A.)

Department of Geological Sciences, 316 Clippinger Laboratories, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio 45701, U.S.A., Tel: 740-593-1107, Fax: 740-593-0486,

3: Maarten de Wit (South Africa)

Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701, South Africa, Tel: +27-21-6502921/31, Fax: +27-6503783,

4. Erdin Bozkurt (Turkey)

Department of Geological Engineering, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, TR-06531 Turkey, Tel: 90-312-2105725, Fax: +90 - 312 - 210 12 63,

5. Petr Kraft (Czech Republic)

Institute of Geology and Palaeontology, Charles University, Albertov 6, 12843 Prague 2, Czech Republic, Tel. +420-221951459,

6. Francisco Pereira (Portugal)

Departamento de Geociências, Centro de Geofisica de Évora, Universidade de Évora, Apartado 94, 544-7001 Evora, Portugal, Tel: 00 351 266 74461, Fax: 00 351 266 744971

7. Robin A. Strachan (UK)

School of Earth & Environmental Sciences, University of Portsmouth, Burnaby Building, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth, PO13QL, United Kingdom, Tel: 44 (0) 23 92842259, Fax: 44 (0)23 92842244,

Project Secretary: Kerstin Drost (South Africa)

AEON EarthLAB, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, 7701, South Africa, Tel: +27-21-650-2922 (office), +27-21-650-4806 (lab), Fax: +27-21-650-3783, e-mail:

Project Secretary: Mandy Hofmann (Germany)

Senckenberg Collections of Natural History Dresden, Museum of Mineralogy and Geology, A.-B.-Meyer-Bau, Königsbrücker Landstrasse 159, Dresden, D-01109, Germany, Tel: 0049-351-7958424419, Fax: 0049-351-7958414404,


The Rheic Ocean

The Rheic Ocean was the dominant ocean during Palaeozoic times. Its initial development can be traced back to the plate tectonic situation in the Late Neoproterozoic due to Cadomian orogenic processes culminating around the Precambrian-Cambrian boundary (Fig. 1). The opening of a proto-Rheic ocean between northern continents such as Baltica and Avalonia is assumed to have occurred in Cambro-Ordovician times. The Rheic Ocean was widest during the Silurian, whereas the Iapetus Ocean finally closed. The closure of the Rheic Ocean started in the Lower Devonian and was completed in the Carboniferous. The result was the formation of the supercontinent Pangaea.

Continental blocks such as North and South America, Africa, Baltica and numerous peri-Gondwanan terranes were involved in the development of the Rheic Ocean. The birth, life and death of the Rheic Ocean was a chain of worldwide events that resulted in many orogenic processes like the Ouachita-Alleghanian-Variscan orogen ranging from the Appalachians in North America to the easternmost outcrops in the Dobrogea (Romania) and in Turkey. The history of the Rheic Ocean also affected strongly the history of life, the palaeoclimate, the formation of different sedimentary basins and the environmental conditions on the planet.

The fields of research therefore include stratigraphy, sedimentology, palaeontology, palaeogeography, palaeooceanography, igneous and metamorphic petrology, tectonics, structural geology, geochemistry, geochronology and geophysics (especially palaeomagnetism).

The thematic frame around the Rheic Ocean is therefore worldwide and international and covers nearly all aspects of the geosciences.


Summary of major past achievements of the project (2004-2008)

(i) Opening meeting in Prague and the Bohemian Massif (Sept. 16-25 2004):

“Gondwanan margin of the Rheic Ocean in the Bohemian Massif”

(ii) Session at the IGC in Florence (Aug. 28 2004):

Special Symposium “T31.03: Neoproterozoic to Early Paleozoic orogenic processes at the northern margin of Gondwana (Avalonian-Cadomian Orogenic Belt)”

(iii) Symposium in Mexico (Oct., 31 2004):

Special Symposium involved in the conference “IV. Reunión nacional de ciencias de la tierra”

(iv) Joint meeting of IGCP 497 with IGCP 453 (Aug. 3-12 2004): A joint meeting of IGCP 453 “Ancient and Modern Orogens” and IGCP 497 was held in the Urals

(v) First IGCP 497 book-project “Das Saxothuringikum” (2004): The first book project of IGCP 497 was finished in the spring of 2004 in German with with a synthesis and figure captions in English (“Das Saxothuringikum”, edited by Ulf Linnemann, 159 p., ISBN: 3-910006-28-0).

(vi) IGCP 497 conference and field workshop in Portsmouth, UK (July, 5-10 2005): “Devono-Carboniferous evolution of the northern margin of the Rheic Ocean”

(vii) Special session and joint meeting of IGCP 453 and IGCP 497 during the Annual Meeting of the Geological Association of Canada (May 17 2005): Special session: SS-20 "Assembling Avalon and Other Peri-Gondwanan Terranes"

(viii) Special session of IGCP 497 "Cadomines/Variscides" organized by Ulf Linnemann and Gernold Zulauf at the International Conference and Annual Meeting of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Geowissenschaften (DGG) and the Geologische Vereinigung (GV) in  Erlangen (Germany) (Sept. 28 2005): Special Session of IGCP 497 "Cadomides/Variscides"

(ix) IGCP 497 conference and field workshop in Ankara, Turkey (June 24-30 2006): “Neoproterozoic and Palaeozoic Terranes in Northwest Turkije”

(x) IGCP 497 conference Evora, Portugal and field workshop in the Ossa-Morena Zone of Portugal and Spain (Sept. 28-Oct. 3 2006): “Ediacaran to Visean crustal growth processes in the Ossa-Morena Zone (SW Iberia)”

(xi) Annual conference and field workshop in Galicia, Spain: IGCP 497 Conference and field excursion: “The rootless Variscan suture of NW Iberia (Galicia, Spain)”, 28. June – 3. July 2007, organized by R. Arenas, J.R. Martínez Catalán, J. Abati and S. Sánchez Martínez (Madrid). Attendence of 51 scientists from 14 countries.

(xxii) Joint conference and field workshop of IGCP 485 and IGCP 497 in El Jadida, Morocco: IGCP 485 and IGCP 497 Joint Conference and field excursion: “ Proterozoic and Phanerozoic traverse of Southern Morocco (Jebilet, High Atlas and Anti-Atlas Belts), 28. November – 5. December 2007, organized by Ezzoura Errami, Nasser Ennih (El Jadida, Morocco) Hassan Ouanaimi (Marrakesh, Morocco), Jean-Paul Liegeois (Tervuren, Belgium). Attendence of 81 scientists from 16 countries.

(xxiii) IGCP 497 annual conference and field workshop in Puerto Escondido, Mexico: “The western end of the Rheic Ocean and subduction erosion processes in southern Mexico”, Feb. 23-March, 2, 2008, origanized by J. Duncan Keppie (Mexico), R. Damian Nance (USA), J. Brendan Murphy (Canada), D. Fraser Keppie (USA), Attendence of 22 scientists from 10 countries.

(xxiv) Joint conference and field workshop of IGCP 497 and IGCP 499 in Frankfurt am Main (Germany): Final Meeting of IGCP 497 & 499, 20th International Senckenberg-Conference & 2nd Geinitz-Conference “From Gondwana and Laurussia to Pangea: Dynamics of oceans and supercontinents”, Sept.. 30 – Oct. 10, 2008 including field trip “The Rheno-Hercyniyn, Mid-German Crystalline and Saxo-Thuringian Zones (Central European Variscides”, organized by Peter Königshof, Ulf Linnemann, Rainer Brocke, Heiner Flick, Mandy Hofmann, Dieter Nesbor, Martin Salomon, Andreas Schäfer, Eberhard Schindler, Johannes Stets, Armin Zeh (all from Germany), Attendence of 130 scientists from 26 countries.

(xxv) Annual meeting an field workshop in an additional sixth year: “The Iapetan and Rheic passive margin of northwest Gondwana, and the Evolution of the Iberian-Armorican Arc”. The meeting was held between June 15th and 22nd , 2009,  Salamanca (Spain) (organized by Gabi Alonso).

Major outcome:

Saxothuringikum Das Saxothuringikum (ed. Ulf Linnemann), Geologica Saxonia Vol. 48/ 49, 2004

GSA Vol. The Evolution of the Rheic Ocean: From Avalonian-Cadomian Active Margin to Alleghenian-Variscan Collision (Eds. Ulf Linnemann, R. Damian Nance, Petr. Kraft, Gernold Zulauf), The Geological Society of America, Special Paper 423, 2007

Tectonophysics Tectonophysics, Special Issue, Volume 461, 2008, (Eds. M. Francisco Pereira, E. Bozkurt, R. Strachan, C. Quesada)

Gondwana Research SE Gondwana Research, Special Volume, Volume 17, 2010, (Ed. R. D. Nance)

Group photgraphs of several meetings

Group 2004 Bohemian Massif, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, 2004

Group 2005 Lizard, UK, 2005

Group 2006 Turkey 2006

Group 2006, 2nd Portugal and Spain 2006

Group 2007 Galicia, Spain, 2007

Group 2007, 2nd Morocco 2007

Group 2008 Mexico 2008

Group 2008, 2nd Frankfurt, Germany, 2008

Group 2009 Salamanca, Spain, 2009